Pioneer and Frontier

calpurnia tate

I attempted to join a virtual book club for upper elementary grades with other teacher bloggers, and we were supposed to read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by the beginning of May. I got distracted by other projects and did not read it until this weekend. I think the book would frustrate many readers today because it is a slower pace with more difficult vocabulary, but I liked it. The language and sentence structure is more sophisticated than books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and it has more substance.

Calpurnia lives in a rural area in Texas and spends much of the book with her grandfather pursuing her interest in nature and Darwin’s theory of evolution. I would classify the book as historical fiction and group it with other books about life on the prairie or frontier. Some of these titles are my favorites from when I was growing up. I read the Little House books repeatedly. I always loved stories where the characters had to grow their own food, build their own homes, and live off the land. When I started building a list of other books that fall in this genre, I realized that the majority have girl main characters– hmmm.

cabin faced west

1700s (Settlers and The American Revolution)

  • The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
  • Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

caddie woodlawn

1800s (Westward Expansion)

  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Little House on the Prairie series Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (middle and high school readers)
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall series by Patricia MacLachlan

thimble summer

1900s (Mostly Around The Great Depression)

  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
  • Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
  • Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rowlings

Do you have a favorite read that is this style of book? It is a type of survival book, but the characters usually have resources and family or friends, and they work together to succeed.

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